Archives for : October2014

Capturing Special Moments in Time

My stomach churned with excitement as we circled the rocky island of KarmØy on the western coast of Norway. My anxiety crested as the 12-passenger plane gracefully touched down and coasted to a stop.

My husband and I and three local passengers climbed out, and the pilot asked if someone was meeting us.

“Yes,” I answered tentatively, but there was no one in sight. Did they remember? Do they speak English? Do they want to meet us, or are they just being polite?

But when we opened the door of the small Haugesund terminal, the room was filled with smiling faces, all of them waiting for us. They were holding a sign that said WELCOME SHEPPARDS.

I had never met my father’s first cousins, and I had no idea of what to expect, but in the days that followed, our time was filled with emotional moments and sensory delights that I knew I wanted never to forget.

We sat down to “evening coffee,” and my eyes stung with tears as they sang grace, first in English, for our benefit, then in Norwegian. We settled down to lefse and flØte kaka and waffla and lapp, and other nameless confections heaped high with whipped cream, and the conversation was warm and welcoming.

The days of our short stay flew quickly by, but there were times when I inhaled deeply the scent of rich coffee and I savored the sounds of a living room filled with Norwegian folk songs sung for our benefit and accompanied on guitars and accordions played by ear, and I said to myself, “How I would love to freeze this moment in time so that when I get home, I could pull it out and savor it all over again.”

So each evening when everyone else had retired for the night, I did what I love to do best: I wrote. The stimulation of the day combined with rich Norwegian coffee kept me alert long after everyone else was asleep.

My point is this: If you want to freeze special moments in time, take pictures—yes–but JOURNAL. You don’t have to be a good writer, just an observant one. A photo is terrific, but words can preserve the smells, the tastes, the sounds, the words, and the emotions in a way a photo never could.

Capture, freeze, then pull those moments out from time to time and relive them all over again. You only live once. Or twice . . .

©Sharon Sheppard, 2014

Yum . . . Yum . . . Custard Pie

As my mother used to say, don’t knock it until you’ve tried it!


Crust that you can pat in the pan:

1 ½ cups of flour                                          ½ cup vegetable oil

2 tablespoons sugar                                     2 tablespoons cream

¾ teaspoon salt

Heat oven to 400 degrees


In a pie pan, combine flour, sugar, and salt. In a small bowl, combine oil, and cream; pour over the dry mixture. Mix with a fork until moist. With hands, press crust on bottom and up sides of pan. Chill in freezer (about 20 minutes) while you stir up the custard.



4 eggs                                                             2 ¼ cups scalded milk

½ cup sugar                                                  ½ teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon vanilla

Beat eggs together with a whisk. Add sugar and flavoring and beat some more. Very slowly add the scalded milk into the chilled crust. Sprinkle with nutmeg on top before baking. Bake 20-25 minutes (the custard will still giggle a little in the center when you take it out of the oven.)

Nesting In

On these beautiful autumn days, I am thinking of God’s beauty in nature more than usual. Autumn is my favorite time of year. The textures and colors of the leaves, the fresh pumpkins, for pumpkin pie, the squirrels scurrying about in preparation of what’s coming. It stirs in me mixed feelings of winter, yet I embrace the season by gathering the family together for apple cider, buttered popcorn, and remembering the countless blessings I have.


A Thought For Today…

Sometimes It’s the Little Things . . . 

In an interview on Good Morning America, Lisa Beamer, wife of Todd Beamer, the 9/11 hero who helped take down the plane over Pennsylvania as it headed for Washington, DC, said it’s the little things that she misses most about Todd.  Things like hearing the garage door open when he came home, and watching her children run to meet him.

Lisa recalled this story:

I had a very special teacher in high school many years ago whose husband died suddenly of a heart attack.  About a week after his death, she shared some of her insights with a classroom of students. 

As the late afternoon sunlight came streaming in through the windows and class was nearly over, the teacher moved a few things aside on the edge of her desk and sat down there.

With a gentle look of reflection on her face, she paused and said, “Class is over.  I would like to share with all of you a thought that is unrelated to class, but which I feel is very important.”  She went on to remind us that each of us is put here on earth to learn, share, love, appreciate, and give of ourselves. None of us knows when this fantastic experience will end. It can be taken away at any moment.

Perhaps this is God’s way of telling us that we must make the most out of every single day. Her eyes were beginning to water, but she went on, “I would like you all to make me a promise. From now on, on your way to school, or on your way home, find something beautiful to notice.

“It doesn’t have to be something you see, it could be a scent, perhaps of freshly baked bread wafting out of someone’s house, or it could be the sound of the breeze slightly rustling the leaves in the trees, or the way the morning light catches one autumn leaf as it
falls gently to the ground. Please look for these things, and cherish them. For, although it may sound trite to some, these things are the ‘stuff’ of life, the little things we are put here on earth to enjoy.  The things we often take for granted.”

The class was completely quiet. Then we all picked up our books and filed out of the room silently. That afternoon, I noticed more things on my way home from school than I had during that whole semester. Every once in a while, I think of that teacher and remember what an impression she made on all of us, and I try to appreciate all of those things that sometimes we all overlook.

So take notice of something special you see on your lunch hour today. Go barefoot. Or walk on the beach at sunset. Stop off on the way home tonight to get a double dip ice cream cone. For as we get older, it is not the things we did that we often regret, but the things we didn’t do.

REMEMBER:  Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away.

HAVE A GREAT DAY!  And may GOD Bless you every day of your life.

Mary Z.


Words of Wisdom Gleaned from My Parents and Other Wise People

When you clicked on today, I hope you didn’t have the idea that my City Cousin and I think WE are the source of all wisdom. We both think we’re pretty smart, but we’re not THAT smart!

Here are some nuggets of advice passed on to me that I wish I’d thought of:

My dad used to quote Solomon, one of the wisest men who ever lived: “Even a fool when he holdeth his tongue is counted wise.” I can’t tell you how many times remembering that proverb has prompted me to keep my mouth shut.

Along that same line, Andy Rooney said, “In a conversation, remember that you’re more interested in what you’re saying than anyone else is.”

Some of the most valuable advice my mother ever gave me was this: “The best thing you can do for your children is to love their father.”

One of the best recipes for happiness, in my opinion, comes from Rudyard Kipling, in “The Children’s Song”: “Teach us to delight in simple things.”

And again, from the book of Proverbs, here is some of the best cautionary advice for healthy relationships that I know: “Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.”

©Sharon Sheppard, the Country Cousin, 2014


Reflections on our Wedding Day

By Jenna Griffin, Mary Z’s granddaughter

So many things about our wedding day were special that it would be hard to single out just one meaningful part. First of all, it meant the world to us that our friends and family could be with us, especially since it meant a long trip for some of them. However, the day was most of all about celebrating what God was calling us into as a couple.
We found that making moments separate for ourselves added such joy. Before we even saw each other, we had private moments with our parents, knowing we wouldn’t see them much the rest of the day. It was so special to have that time with them!
We also really appreciated stealing an hour away after the ceremony to be by ourselves and let the day soak in. We were married!!
And then we loved the moment where we had our wedding party come and surround us and pray for us. It was so emotional, but we felt so blessed! The whole day was absolutely perfect!”
The Griffins: Jamie and Jenna